News & Comment
Blogs and Opinion
Uprising in Montana: Activists Take a Stand Against Coal Exports by Scott Parkin, alternet.org | August 23, 2012It wasn’t as big as we’d hoped. These things never are, until, well, they are. It didn’t really matter though: Hundreds converged from across the country for the Coal Export Action and 23 participated in five days of civil disobedience in protest of the coal industry’s latest scheme to save itself from obsolescence. The message we sent reverberated around the state capitol here in Helena, MT: We will not sit idly by while King Coal attempts to export coal from the Powder River Basin through port towns in Oregon and Washington to Asian energy markets. read more »
Arctic Death Spiral: How It Favors Extreme, Prolonged Weather Events ‘Such As Drought, Flooding, Cold Spells And Heat Waves’ by Joe Romm, thinkprogress.org | August 22, 2012We are headed for record lows in Arctic sea ice area and volume. The death spiral will start to make headlines in this country when we beat the record low sea ice extent set in 2007 as monitored by our National Snow and Ice Data Center. We are getting close, as the latest data make clear. But the death spiral of Arctic ice deserves attention beyond its obvious indication of a warming planet. There is increasing scientific analysis suggesting that the loss of ice in the distant Arctic is helping drive the off-the-charts extreme weather we have been seeing right here in this country in recent years read more »
How Did Coal-Rich India End Up With Power Blackouts? by Daphne Wysham, The Nation | August 22, 2012“If you work hard, and put your heart and soul into it, then you are allowed to steal some,” said Shivpal Singh Yadav, a minister for public works for India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh (UP). “But don’t be a bandit.” Caught on camera, Yadav’s words were replayed in newscasts across India on August 9, 2012, nine days after a power failure left half of India’s population—one-tenth of the planet’s people—without power. Among the Indian states that suffered the blackout, twice, was Yadav’s home state of UP. A preliminary government investigation into the cause of the blackouts found that “indiscipline of state electricity boards and faulty management by the northern grid operator Power Grid Corporation” was to blame for the blackouts. Yet two other simpler reasons, theft and climate change, should not be overlooked. read more »
Why Conservative Attacks On Wind And Solar Energy? by Dave Johnson, OurFuture.org | August 20, 2012There has been a recent flurry of propaganda attacks on wind and solar energy by oil-and-coal-backed conservatives. A vitally important tax credit to help build a renewable energy industry in this country expires at the end of this year without Congressional action, and the old oil and coal industries -- along with certain other countries -- want to make sure it does expire. read more »
Avoiding a 21st-Century Dust Bowl by Jim Harkness, commondreams.org | August 20, 2012Mother Nature found a cruel way to demonstrate the difference between political rhetoric and reality when this summer's record-breaking drought coincided with the writing of a new U.S. Farm Bill. The House Agriculture Committee's draft 2012 Farm Bill will scrap costly farm subsidies in favor of a federal crop insurance expansion. The change will supposedly build a safety net for farmers in bad years while benefiting taxpayers by reducing federal agriculture expenditures. The reality is entirely different. Right now, one-half of U.S. counties have been declared federal disaster areas due to drought. More than 80 percent of corn and soybean crops are in drought-affected areas. Crop losses are likely to be catastrophic — economists are predicting crop insurance payouts could top $40 billion. So much for saving money. This year's drought illustrates why the latest Farm Bill won't meet current or future challenges. read more »
Texans Putting Their Bodies On The Line To Stop Keystone Pipeline by Bill McKibben, grist.org | August 17, 2012Almost exactly a year after we launched civil-disobedience actions in Washington to protest the Keystone XL pipeline, folks across Texas are doing the same thing today. Or rather, they’re doing something bolder and more courageous — instead of trying to make a political point, they’re actually announcing plans to put their bodies on the line to stop the construction of a portion of the pipe. read more »
Don’t Waste The Drought by Charles Fishman, The New York Times | August 17, 2012We're in the worst drought in the United States since the 1950s, and we’re wasting it. Though the drought has devastated corn crops and disrupted commerce on the Mississippi River, it also represents an opportunity to tackle long-ignored water problems and to reimagine how we manage, use and even think about water. For decades, Americans have typically handled drought the same way. We are asked to limit lawn-watering and car-washing, to fully load dishwashers and washing machines before running them, to turn off the tap while brushing our teeth. When the rain comes, we all go back to our old water habits. But just as the oil crisis of the 1970s spurred advances in fuel efficiency, so should the Drought of 2012 inspire efforts to reduce water consumption. read more »
Corn Corn Everywhere, But Not a Drop to Eat by Sarah Laskow, prospect.org | August 16, 2012Last week, the United States Department of Agriculture released a report on the state of the country’s corn, and the verdict is not good. The report — the first that estimates production based on surveying the fields of U.S. farmers — shows that farmers are on track to produce 10.8 billion bushels of corn this year, a 17 percent drop from last year. This summer’s drought has parched King Corn: some ears have only a few sweet kernels to offer, others droop, brown and defeated. Even with the drought, America will grow and harvest more corn in 2012 than in almost any time in its history. But, the near-record crushing 10.8 billion bushels isn’t enough to keep corn-happy Americans well-fed. read more »
The Rising Tide Of Environmental Refugees by Andrew Lam, news.newamericamedia.org | August 15, 2012The modern world has long thought of refugees in strictly political terms, victims in a world riven by competing ideologies. But as climate change continues unabated, there is a growing population of displaced men, women and children whose homes have been rendered unlivable thanks to a wide spectrum of environmental disasters. Today, it is believed that the population of environmentally displaced has already far outstripped the number of political refugees worldwide. read more »
The Top 5 Myths About the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act by Soumya Karlamangla , The Nation | August 14, 2012While debating the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act (DEJA) on the House floor in June, Michigan Republican Fred Upton called the legislation a “win-win.” You might assume that the winning going on would benefit the American people, but as California Democrat Henry Waxman warned, H.R. 4480 is a Trojan horse. While the DEJA claims to be about creating jobs and lowering gas prices, the bill’s real goal is to dismantle the country’s environmental policies. The radical package of bills aims to increase the land available for oil and gas drilling and dismantle the core of the existing Clean Air Act. A staggering 248 House members voted for the DEJA, touting it as the solution for hard economic times. Here’s how they argued for its passage, and why they’re wrong. read more »
BP Well Cap: BP, Feds Clash Over Reopening Capped Gulf Oil Well , Huffington Post | July 19, 2010
What Cap? Dems' Climate Word War, Politico | July 19, 2010
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid played dumb last week when a reporter asked him if the energy and climate bill headed to the floor would come with a “cap” on greenhouse gas emissions.
“I don’t use that,” the Nevada Democrat replied. “Those words are not in my vocabulary. We’re going to work on pollution.”
BP Suits Top 300 on Claims by Workers, Mall, Sheriff, Business Week | July 16, 2010
July 15 (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc faces more than 300 lawsuits seeking billions of dollars in potential claims as damage from the worst oil spill in U.S. history ripples through the nation’s Gulf Coast economy. read more »
BP Stops Gulf Oil Flow for the First Time Since April, grist.org | July 16, 2010
British energy giant BP stopped the oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday for the first time in three months as it began key tests hoping to stem the spill for good.
Shortly after BP engineers shut down the last of three valves on a giant new cap placed on the blown-out well, Senior Vice President Kent Wells announced that no oil was leaking into the seas.
Congress Turns to Task of Preventing Another Gulf Oil Spill, Christian Science Monitor | July 15, 2010
Amid an election-year rush to finalize and vote on major oil spill legislation before the fall elections, the Democratic leadership is pushing hard to get an oil-spill bill out of committees and onto the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote, hopefully before the August recess. read more »
BP Faces 7-Year Offshore Drilling Ban, bbc.co.uk | July 15, 2010
A US Congressional committee has agreed measures that would ban BP from new offshore drilling for seven years.
The House committee on natural resources voted in favour of precluding companies with poor safety records from offshore oil exploration permits.
The proposed law does not name BP, but would apply to any company that has experienced 10 or more deaths in the last seven years.
BP Replaces Leaking Line, Back on Track with Critical Tests, CNN | July 15, 2010
BP replaced a leaking piece of equipment Thursday and hoped to resume procedures leading up to a vital well pressure test that could put an end to the oil that has been gushing into Gulf of Mexico for the last 12 weeks, said a top company official. read more »
BP Prepares to Test New Cap on Well, Reuters | July 13, 2010
The tests, due to last between six and 48 hours, will begin later on Tuesday on BP's newly installed "capping stack", which has a better seal than the last cap placed on the well and aims to stop oil from spewing out of the failed blowout preventer. read more »
A ‘Replicable’ Energy Model In Hawaii?, newsweekinteractive.net | July 12, 2010
President Obama has called for a “national mission” to end America’s dependence on oil. Perhaps the biggest hurdle, however, isn’t national will—a majority of Americans now back an energy overhaul—so much as finding a workable template. Could Hawaii fill the void? The archipelago is more than twice as oil-dependent as the U.S. read more »
Grow Green Jobs, ourfuture.org | July 12, 2010
Why not address both problems with a major public program to directly put people to work saving energy?
Plenty of green-job advocates have offered practical details, including my University of Massachusetts colleague, Robert Pollin. Yet no one in Congress or the White House seems willing to plant this garden. read more »